Ghanaian Chronicle

2012-Annus Horribilis A Year of Horror

Date published: January 4, 2013

Ebo Quansah in Accra


On November 24, 1992, British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, gave a speech marking the 40th anniversary of her Ascension to the throne at Guildhall in London and conjured an image of a horrible year.  “1992 is not a year in which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” she stated. “  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents,  it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.”

Annus Horribilis, is a Latin phrase meaning horrible year or a year of horrors. The Queen obviously went the Latin way to express her deep disappointment with the events of the year.

The British monarch,  normally reserved and very conservative in her means of expressing issues had had her neck deep in events of sorrow  that had brought deep feelings to her heart. In March 1992, it was announced that the Queen’s second son, Edward, the Duke of York,  was to separate from his wife, the Duchess of York, who was originally known as Sarah Ferguson. A month later in April 1992, the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne-the Princess Royal,  divorced her husband, Captain Mark Philips.

In June 1992,  a tell-tale book on Diana,  Princess of Wales, was published chronicling her unhappy married life with Prince Charles.  Earlier, in November  1992, just four days before the Guildhall Speech, one of the Queen’s luxurious homes-the Windsor Castle, had been virtually razed to the ground by fire.

To fund the restoration project, then British Prime Minister at the time, Mr. John Major, announced the opening to the public of some aspects of the royal household. It was a decision that the Queen and her Royal Household accepted with reluctance.

Our own Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations used the phrase –Annus Horribilis-to depict the pain in his heart at an interaction with the media on December 21, 2004.

“There is no doubt that this has been a particularly difficult year,” Kofi Annan told the media. “I am relieved that this Annus Horribilis is coming to an end.”

According to insiders, Busumuru Kofi Annan was alluding to persistent allegations of corruption in the United Nation’s controversial Iraqi oil for food programme .  For me, as a social commentator, the year 2012, has been an Annus Horribilis for the people of Ghana.

For the first time in the history of our political evolution, the result of the 2012 Presidential Elections is being challenged in court.  We are likely to inaugurate a President on January 7, 2013, who might not have the mandate of the people.

The largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party has filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Presidential result declared by Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission which proclaimed Mr. John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress as winner of the December Presidential elections.

To buttress their claim that the man to be inaugurated on January 7, might not have been elected by the people of Ghana, the NPP is staying away from the inauguration.  This means that a new President would be sworn in on Monday, January 7, who would not command the support of nearly half the voting population of this country.

According to official results declared by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission,  NDC Candidate John Dramani Mahama,  breast the tape ahead of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.  Mahama was credited with 5,574,761 representing 50.70 percent of the popular vote. The NPP candidate was officially credited with 5,248,898 representing 47.74 percent. All the other Presidential Candidates combined could not account for two percent of the popular vote.

With the NPP officially announcing that the party and its Parliamentary caucus do not intend to be part of the inauguration, the battle lines are drawn.

We have a monumental constitutional crisis on our hands. It is looking like this country would inaugurate a President on Monday, who is not recognized  by nearly half of the population. It is certainly, not what this country bargained for when we went to the polls on December 7, 2012.

For me as a citizen, I would have hoped that the NPP would have been part of the swearing in. I thought once the issue is before court, it is for the court to decide. Until the court pronounces on the NPP suit, it is presumed that John Mahama is the Head of State of the Republic.

Far from abating, the constitutional crisis is expected to deepen with expected challenges in court in a large number of constituencies. We went to the polls to elect a government in December. It looks like we have rather courted constitutional crisis.

There may be those who would remember 2012 for the fortune it bestowed on them.  For someone like Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa money was so awash that after  lavish spending aspree at Christmas,  the Deputy Minister of Information reported a loss of GHc25,000 from his car.  I mean c250,000 of the old cash. The money just got missing after a good time during the Yuletide. Money Swine!

My information is that the driver of the Deputy Minister, Derrick Kumah, is helping the police in their investigations into the circumstances leading to the missing cash. This was at the time when many  Ghanaian families  were unable to afford the cost of  chicken for the festivities.

The few political beneficiaries aside, the year was terrible for most Ghanaians. The year 2012 registered more political deaths  than at any time in the history of the nation. On June 4, 2012, Alhaji Saani Iddi, Independent Member of Parliament for Wulensi,   was called to his maker. Barely two weeks later,  he was followed to the next world by Mr. Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, then Member of Parliament for Kwabre West.

Mr. Owusu-Ansah, who was once Ashanti Regional Minister and one-time Judiciary Secretary died on June 22, aged 73. The Electoral Commission announced  by-elections to replace the two fallen Parliamentarians. But in a landmark show of unity, the NDC and the NPP went to court and succeeded in getting an Accra High Court to call off the vote on the basis that the general election was not far away.

The mother of all deaths shook the very foundation of our political edifice on July 24, when the sitting President of the Republic, was called to his maker for the first time in the political evolution of this nation.

Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, who had survived a number of rumoured deaths, finally succumbed to the inevitable on Tuesday, July 24,  forcing a Constitutional crisis that was resolved with the swearing in of Vice-President John Dramani Mahama as the Transitional Head of State on the same day.

The deceased President’s funeral on Wednesday, August 8, brought all kinds of drama to the political scene. On the official brochure, the late President was supposed to have left a message promising to intercede on behalf of Ghanaians in the Kingdom of the Almighty himself.

In a very bizarre display of sycophancy, the fallen leader was accompanied by cameramen who captured him live on television,  being hugged by Jesus Christ the Son of God in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father. To crown the comedy, the deceased former professor of law was captured in Heaven sitting on the Throne of the Son of God.

The Annus Horribilis did not end there. Former Vice-President Alhaji Aliu Mahama was also called to his maker. The outpouring of grief told its own story. Alhaji Mahama was buried with Muslim rituals at his residence at Tamale.

To crown a year of horror, the Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Henry Ford Kofi Kamel collapsed and died in mysterious circumstances on Christmas day at Guanman, his hometown in the Jasikan Traditional Area. He died at the Jasikan Government Hospital the same day.

There are all sorts of mysteries surrounding his death with family members pointing to sorcery and black magic.  2012 has been a terrible year for most Ghanaians. Annus Horibilis indeed!

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